Rookie Cops, Generators Help Fair Haven Seniors Cope With Power Outages
by Allan Appel | Oct 30, 2012 9:51 pm
Posted to: Housing, Fair Haven, Superstorm Sandy
Rookies at New Haven’s police training academy participated in a real-life exercise during Superstorm Sandy—fanning out to senior complexes like Fair Haven’s Ruoppolo Manor, where the power went out.
The 106 elderly residents of Ruoppolo Manor, the seniors-only development on Ferry Street in Fair Haven, lost their power at around 5:30 Monday night as Hurricane Sandy gained force.
Meanwhile, another 150 seniors living nearby at the Mary Wade Home also lost their power.
At both complexes, the seniors were getting lots of help coping Tuesday as the lights remained out.
At Ruoppolo, a public-housing tower run by the Housing Authority of New Haven (HANH), an emergency generator clicked on within a minute of Monday evening’s power outage. So lights were on in the halls, lobby, and the elevators.
Still the seniors had no light or power in individual apartments.
That was the case at Ruoppolo and also at some of HANH’s other senior-only developments. They were being put on the city’s priority list for restoration of service, according to HANH Executive Director Karen DuBois-Walton.
As of noon Tuesday, citywide HANH’s seniors at Ruoppolo’s, along with 85 at Ribicoff Cottages in West Rock and 26 at Newhall Gardens, remained without power, DuBois-Walton reported.
She reported no health or other emergencies thus far.
Oxygen Continues to Flow
For Ruoppolo tenants like Deborah Young’s mom, the consequences of the power going out could have been serious to life-threatening had it not been for HANH’s emergency generator.
Her mom uses a portable oxygen tank that requires electricity.
When the power went out, “we were crocheting and watching [the development of the storm] on TV,” Young recalled. She lives with her mom at Ruoppolo.
When the lights went out, they went into “panic mode.”
That did not last long, because HANH’s emergency generator clicked in. “Within a minute electricity in the halls and lobby was OK,” Young said.
That meant that her mom could take the extension cord and plug the oxygen tank into the hall outlet.
Young and her friend Maritza Baez praised the work of Officer Rob Levy (pictured), who took charge.
“I just had twins. I’m on vacation,” he said as he fielded several calls at once. Then he added, “I live here.”
HANH’s emergency generator provided immediate power but only to all halls, lobbies and public areas and the all-important elevators.
Another tenant, Theresa Peeler, who’s been at Ruoppolo for six months, has a neighbor across the hall on the fifth floor. The neighbor too uses oxygen 24 hours a day. “She plugged in. Got to have it,” Peeler said.
“We put a lot of effort into preparation,” said DuBois-Walton. That included updating the list of who’s in a wheel chair and who needs special help.
The city sent a police cruiser to each senior-only resident to provide security, as the alarm systems at Ruoppolo and other locations were disabled; and also to expedite travel to hospitals in case of health emergency, DuBois-Walton said.
All 29 of the New Haven police recruits currently at the academy were pulled away for real-life stuff, according to training officer Rob Strickland.
On Tuesday, one of recruits, Dana Smith (pictured), was on hand with Strickland to check the safety of Ruoppolo residents. The others were at other senior-only facilities, schools, and shelters as needed.
Strickland and Smith were shuttling between Ruoppolo and the Fairbank Apartments, another senior residence on Ferry near Grand.
At Fairbank Monday Smith helped an evacuated family move their luggage to stay with their parents. At Ruoppolo, Smith said, all was quiet. He had instructed only one man to enter not by the back but by the front, at the sign in desk.
“People without electricity can get agitated. Police presence deters bad behavior,” said Strickland.
“It’s a good jump start [at community policing], as Chief Essermean wants us to do walking beats in December” after graduation and field training, said Smith.
Mary Wade Has Three
A few blocks away on Clinton Avenue over at the Mary Wade Home, seniors were in general faring better. In front of the main entrance one of the institution’s three generators was making a powerful statement with its noise.
Administrator Teresa Wells said that power went out around 7 p.m. Monday. Mary Wade’s three back-up generators immediately kicked in. Residents didn’t even notice, she reported.
The three generators maintain power not only in public areas but for all the 150 seniors’ rooms in both the skilled nursing and residential care buildings.
Wells said that the three generators are regularly checked, are under service contract, and are excellently maintained.
“The city pus us on a priority list,” for restoration Wells said.
When city Elderly Services Director Pat Wallace called and asked how they were faring, Wells replied, “We’re all lit up. If someone else needs it [priority restoration], fine.”
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